Ecuador: Parliament debates impeachment proceedings against the head of state

Ecuador: Parliament debates impeachment proceedings against the head of state

Ecuadorian MPs on Saturday began debating the possible impeachment of President Guillermo Lasso, who the same evening ended a state of emergency declared a week ago in an attempt to contain indigenous protests over the cost of the life.

At the request of deputies supporting former socialist President Rafael Correa (2007-2017), the unicameral Parliament began to meet shortly after 6 p.m. local time (2300 GMT) and virtually.

“135 (out of 137) members of the Assembly” are taking part in this session, Parliament said on its Twitter account. They discuss Lasso’s impeachment due to a “serious political crisis and internal unrest” in the country.

The opposition, in the majority but divided within the Assembly, blames the president for the “serious political crisis” which has shaken the country since June 13, with daily demonstrations and street blockades.

In power for a year, the latter will be able to speak to the deputies, even if it has not been specified in what form, the head of state having recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.

After the debates, the deputies will have 72 hours to vote. A majority of 92 votes out of 137 is required for the impeachment procedure to pass.

On Saturday evening, President Lasso ended a state of emergency declared eight days ago in six of the country’s 24 provinces, the most affected by the protests, according to a new decree issued by the president’s office.

This curfew provided for the mobilization of the army and a seven-hour night curfew for three provinces, including Pichincha, whose capital is Quito.

Nearly 14,000 indigenous demonstrators are mobilized across the country to protest against the rising cost of living and demand in particular a drop in fuel prices, according to the police, who estimate their number at nearly 10,000 in the capital.

– Attempt at dialogue –

These debates opened on the very day of a first attempt at dialogue between leaders of the indigenous movement and several government ministers, under the auspices of the President of Parliament Virgilio Saquicela.

“We asked for the opening of a dialogue. (…) This dialogue has started, there has been no commitment whatsoever, but simply the decision of Conaie (organization spearhead of the demonstrations) to consult its base to appoint a commission to start this dialogue”, explained Mr. Saquicela to the press, judging that “the government has shown itself to be open”.

On Friday, President Lasso, who recently received support from the army, accused the demonstrators of wanting to “perpetrate a coup”.

The violence left six people dead and dozens injured. Quito is largely paralyzed and its access blocked by numerous roadblocks. The demonstrators tried twice, Thursday and Friday, to enter the premises of the National Assembly, from where they were repelled by the police.

On Saturday morning, hundreds of indigenous women held a traditional ritual in northern Quito, before marching with anti-government slogans.

“The basic food basket is very expensive and our agricultural products (…) are worth nothing,” said Miguel Taday, 39, a potato producer in Chimborazo (south).

“We will continue to fight here, until the last consequences,” said Wilmer Umajinga, 35, who has been protesting in the capital since Monday.

In Quito, residents are expressing their weariness with closed stores and shortages of certain products. Counter-demonstrations were organized with cries of “Iza (leader of the demonstrators), out!”.

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